Planting tree seeds

September 17, 2018

Gathering and growing local seeds helps strengthen biodiversity. Nurturing plants enhances wellbeing & environmental consideration.

conker sapling in small plant pot
Author: Muddy Faces

Age Range: 3+

Duration: 1-2 hours

Location: woods/forest

Time Of Day: any time

Season: autumn

Tags: conker, grow, plant, seed, tree

Category: growing & gardens sustainability & nature


Prepare a soil/compost mix.
Gather plant pots and pebbles.
Identify the area you will be collecting your seeds.

Environmental considerations

  • collect tree seeds considerately, ideally collecting those that fall on ground where they are unlikely to grow – paths or roads, or where there is an abundance
  • follow our foraging tips

Health & safety considerations

  • prepare a risk-benefit assessment of your journey and collection area in line with your standard operating procedures
  • particular considerations for seed collection: choke hazards, collecting area – hygiene/dog faeces

Gather your seeds

Head out on a wonderful autumn seed hunt. Take collecting baskets, pots or bags with you.
Count, sort and explore each of the seeds found.
Conkers, acorns and sycamore are quite reliable trees to grow in a pot.

Seed viability

Don’t use any seeds with holes in them, insect larvae could be inside chomping away!

Check if the conkers float or sink. Only use the seeds that sink.

Check out our conkers ideas for things to do with the ones you don’t plant.


Plant several of each tree type in case some do not grow.

pile of 10 conkers

Step 1

Place a few pebbles in the base of your plant pots, this helps with stability (fewer get knocked over) and drainage.

small plant pot with gravel in bottom

Step 2

Fill pot with soil mixed with compost.

pot of soil with soil scoop next to it

Step 3

Plant each seed, one per pot, about 2cm deep, and cover with soil/compost mix.

conker placed on top of soil in small plant pot

Step 4

Water well.

child pouring water into pot of soil

Step 5

Place the pot in a shady place in the garden for the winter.

Check the pots don’t dry out (but do not over-water) and make sure they are safe from being eaten –  mice and squirrels are always on the hunt.

Ideally, protect them from hard frosts with a cover or a frame. Do not be tempted to keep them indoors and warm as they need to go through a cold spell to help them germinate.

Step 6

The long wait – the seeds will not start sprouting until spring.